No one said it better than George Eliot: “Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” (Eliot is also known as Mary Anne Evans, author of the 1857 short story “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story.”) Pets are such an ideal source of unconditional love! They will always be happy to see us and we can count on an enthusiastic hello to brighten the day. We may often find ourselves rushing into the office for a morning meeting—we should be just as diligent about dashing home to be greeted by a pet in the evening! Here’s how our furry friends can increase health and happiness at home.
Pets encourage a brighter outlook
You can certainly see the wonderful reaction in a young child’s face when Fido comes running to greet him or when Fluffy starts to purr in her presence. Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, you can feel tension ease within a couple minutes of being around a pet. Studies agree that this can help us feel less anxious and actually result in physical changes that make a difference in mood.1 The ability to relax and feel relief around pets comes when the level of cortisol (“the stress hormone”) in our body is lowered and as serotonin production increases, bringing about a more pronounced sense of well-being.2
Pets represent affection, and a connection with them can benefit anyone. Your dog or cat will lend an ear any time you want to talk. Interacting with a pet during walks, brushing, or trying out a new toy can actually help give you positive perspective; you could even notice that you feel better about how you spend your time.2
Take feeling better to heart
In addition to exercise and a healthy diet, pets can help improve heart health. Did you know that dog owners have shown a significantly better survival rate 1 year after a heart attack2? Twenty years of research also highlights the long-term benefits of having a cat in your daily life: people who owned a cat were 60% less likely to die of a heart attack than those who had never owned a cat2! In fact, pet owners have a lower risk of dying of any cardiac disease, including heart failure.2
Unleash a new enthusiasm for exercise
You and your pet could both benefit from blowing off steam after a long day! Pets need exercise too, especially if they’ve been inside or cooped up for much of the day.3 It’s a fine starting point to walk together, play fetch, or bring out an interactive toy. Together you and your pet could improve your health and then gradually increase your activities. Consult with your doctor and veterinarian for recommendations—then unleash your new enthusiasm for exercise together! Exercise will increase blood flow throughout your body, which could also encourage more radiant skin. You could consider time with your furry friend part of your daily beauty routine!
With these healthy benefits, you’ll probably find new appreciation for your dog or cat. You may even see a new side of your pet as you discover fun activities to try together. Fortunately, you can still get out and enjoy the last dog days of summer before the cooler weather sets in!
References 1. Sorenson B. The health benefits of pets. Mayo Clinic Web site.
http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2010/05/12/the-health-benefits-of-pets/. Accessed August 14, 2012.
2. 27 ways pets can improve your health. WebMD Web site.
http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-pets-improve-your-health. Accessed August 14, 2012.
3. Pets need exercise, too! CBS News Web site.
http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500199_162-3719260.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.